Food & Nutrition

How Long Does Cooked & Raw Chicken Last in the Fridge?

This is a common issue as almost everyone has the habit of purchasing chicken from some grocery store only to toss it in the fridge! Yes, the human mind has a unique way of reconsidering, thus the issue of just how healthy such a decision would prove to be. The fact that chicken can be conveniently stored in the fridge or freezer is an acknowledged one, but…for how long?

It’s important to know how fresh it still is after inhabiting your fridge for some time. Being knowledgeable about the signs for meat that has gone bad or for how long does chicken last in the fridge is necessary.
Moreover, every year millions of people worldwide are affected by foodborne illnesses. Mostly due to the pathogen Salmonella[1], found in poultry, which is one of the root causes of illnesses acquired by eating home-made meals.

a chicken in the fridge

How long does raw chicken last in the fridge?

The best option for this would be to either cook or freeze the chicken quickly. USDA[2]recommends that uncooked chicken is good in the fridge for around 1-2 days.

However, if you’re concerned about how long does chicken last in the freezer, chicken pieces can be safely kept for a duration of up to 9 months if properly sealed in a vacuum-sealed package or other kinds of freezer-safe containers. In the case of a whole chicken, up to 12 months.

Bacteria are a natural presence and refrigeration[3] is an ideal way of clamping down on bacterial growth. The nagging worry for how long chicken is good in the fridge can be dealt with by setting your refrigerator at 40 ̊ F or less. Bacteria have a tendency of multiplying fast between temperature ranges of 40 and 140 ̊ F.

How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge?

Storing cooked chicken in the fridge can last a bit longer, but you still need to be aware of how long its been in there. Under FDA[4] standards, you can keep it in your refrigerator for 3-4 days. This applies to all kinds of cooked chicken: restaurant leftovers, homemade or store-bought.

Cooked chicken can be frozen for up to 4 months; bearing in mind the need for properly sealing it. Nonetheless, even if chicken that is properly frozen is safe to eat, there will be a gradual loss in its flavor and texture over time.

Telling signs that raw chicken has gone bad

Stay informed about how long chicken can stay in the freezer as there’s still a high chance of its going bad. Here are three easy methods of determining whether raw chicken has gone bad.

  • First: Look at the color. Fresh, raw chicken has a pink, fleshy hue. This fades to a grayish shade when it begins to go bad. Don’t doubt…just throw it out!
  • Second: Smell it. If it’s not bad, it should smell like chicken and not have a strong, repellent odor. If the chicken is emitting any kind of unpleasant odor, the safest way is to get rid of it.
  • Third: Feel it. Even though it’s natural for raw chicken to have a glossy, slimy texture, once you rinse the chicken underwater and the slime remains…it’s gone bad. Discard it.

Another point worth noting is the expiration or “sell-by” date. Stay safe and ensure buying chicken before the projected date.

Telling signs that cooked chicken has gone bad

Despite freezing cooked chicken, you still need to know for how long chicken is good in the freezer. Here’s how.

  • Smell it. Like in raw chicken, bad smell is an indication of rotten meat. Be wary of chicken marinated with sauces, spices or herbs as these might conceal bad odor.
  • Check for mold. Any black or green fuzz growth is a bad sign.
  • Look for color changes. Cooked chicken is white underneath, any gray or discoloration is not safe.
  • Taste it. If the taste is bad…spit it out and dispose of it.

Bottom Line

How long chicken in the fridge remains healthy for human consumption is of vital importance. Eating bad chicken should be avoided at all costs. Meat contamination with something pathogenic, such as bacteria or toxins, results in food poisoning.

Even if spoiled chicken is properly cooked, it can still make you sick as heat isn’t guaranteed to prevent food poisoning. According to the Mayo Clinic[5], certain bacteria emit toxins that remain in the food even after the bacteria have been killed by cooking.


[1] “Low-temperature Survival of Salmonella Spp. In a Model Food System With Natural Microflora” By National Library of Medicine.

[2] “Cold Food Storage Chart by FoodSafety.gov”

[3] “Refrigeration and Food Safety” by USDA.

[4] “Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart” by FDA.

[4]”E. coli” by Mayo Clinic.

 

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